The Gold Rush – Lesson Plans and Resources

The California Gold Rush of 1849 is a part of almost every US History curriculum from elementary school through high school. An image featured in last week’s feed from the National Archives prompted me to look for some new-to-me resources for teaching the Gold Rush.

1. National Geographic Xpeditions has a 2-3 hours lesson plan for elementary school students about the boom and bust of gold rush towns. The lesson plan calls for students to view and reflect on a series of photographs of gold rush towns.

2. Harcourt School Publishers has a free website that is designed to accompany their elementary school textbooks. On the website students can scroll through a series of drawings about Sutter’s Mill (the place where gold was discovered setting off the gold rush). Clicking on each image reveals a box of text summarizing the significance of that image. Harcourt School Publishers also has a short timeline of the gold rush.

3. The Oakland Museum of Calfornia has a great set of resources for teaching about the California Gold Rush. On the museum’s website you will find lesson plans for elementary school, middle school, and high school use. The virtual exhibit includes art and images about the gold rush as well as narratives about gold rush participants. After exploring the online exhibit students can take a quiz about the California Gold Rush.

4. Finally, no list about a US History topic can be constructed without checking PBS has a website built as a companion to their American Experience television program about the Gold Rush. You can use many of the resources on the website without watching the program. The Strike it Rich game, the interactive map, and the timeline can all be used without having seen the American Experience Gold Rush episodes.


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!